On Wednesday, two days before what is supposed to be the last day of session, Democrats gave Republicans an ultimatum: a. either raise income taxes, alcohol and tobacco taxes, and create a new tax on vaping or b. balance the budget by cutting Grant-in-Aid which supports fire companies, veterans service organizations, senior centers, and other non-profit organizations. Basically Democrats took taxpayers and community organizations hostage, said they’re only going to shoot one, but Republicans get to pick who. Wisely, Republicans rejected these strong arm tactics outright.
On Thursday Republicans made a counter proposal that gave Democrats their tax increases in exchange for implementing future spending reforms, a budget stabilization fund (a great idea from State Treasurer Ken Simpler that helps the budgeting process by smoothing out the ups & downs in tax revenue), and reforming prevailing wage which makes state projects cost on average 24% more than private sector construction (imagine: for every 4 schools built a 5th could be built for free).
Democrats responded by completely rejecting prevailing wage reform in any form and insisting that future budgetary reforms be “studies” only without real consequences. Democrats expected Republicans to raise taxes in exchange for nothing that addressed the spending problem in state government. Obviously there was no deal.
Friday: because of Democrats’ strenuous objection to prevailing wage reform of any kind, Republicans dropped that issue and came up with another compromise to balance the budget without axing Grant-in-Aid or raising taxes yet again: cut non-payroll spending in state agencies across the board by 1.1%, use some of Governor Carney’s suggested spending reductions, temporarily divert funds from the greenhouse gas fund, along with some smaller cuts.
This was the most responsible, most reasonable offer yet that actually addressed the state’s ballooning budget in real terms. When state spending has nearly doubled since 2004, it becomes clear that Delaware’s government has a spending addiction that must be curbed. However, Democrats rejected this offer. Apparently they have so little commitment to responsible spending that even a minuscule 1.1% reduction is too much for them to handle.
Honestly, it’s astonishing that Democrats have proven so unwilling to cut spending even after being given $116 million in tax increases. Their years of being in control of state finances, being able to render tax increases at any time, has left them unable to compromise. Governor Carney has ordered the General Assembly back to work on Sunday to pass a budget. I ask you to please, please contact Democrat legislators and urge them to accept the most recent Republican budget compromise for the good of Delaware.
You can find legislators’ contact information here: http://legis.delaware.gov/ Thank you for reading.
Respectfully, Sam Chick